Australian Open tournament director and Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley has said that the tournament will go ahead and will take place. The statement comes at the back of growing concerns over the increasingly poor air quality in Melbourne.
Tiley said that there were a lot of rumors going around that the tournament will not be taking place and the starting time will be delayed because of the smoke. He said that these rumors are false and issued a clarification. "There is a lot of speculation about the Australian Open not happening, or starting later. The Australian Open is happening."
Speaking on the air quality issues, he said, "Air quality is a very complex and confusing issue which relates to a number of different factors. There are a number of different air quality measures and it is made more complex by going on an app. There are different apps and websites which give you different readings. This is about trusting the medical advice and trusting the expertise and scientific advice of the people who analyse this every day. The safety, the wellbeing and the health of the players is the priority for us, as with our staff and our fans."
The Australian Open begins on Monday, January 20 and will go on till February 2.
On Wednesday, Dalila Jakupovicad to retire from the Australian Open qualifiers on Tuesday after she collapsed following a coughing fit due to the smoke caused by wildfires in the country. She said that the tournament should not have been conducted since it was a serious health concern for the players and that it was unfair on them. "I think it was not fair because it's not healthy for us. I was surprised. I thought we would not be playing today but we really don't have much choice."
Melbourne has been witnessing extremely poor air quality because of the wildfires that have started since September. The wildfires have resulted in the death of at least 28 people since September and has destroyed more than 2,600 homes and razed more than 10.3 million hectares (25.5 million acres), mostly in New South Wales state.